Israel expressed concern last week that advanced Russian-manufactured anti-tank missiles may have been acquired by Lebanon-based Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah.
According to the Israel Defense website, defense officials are trying to confirm reports that an unknown number of the missiles - known as RPG-30 - have indeed been acquired by the terrorist organization. The advanced missiles are said to be capable of penetrating Israel Defense Forces armor protection systems, including the Armored Corps “Windbreaker” anti-tank missile shield system, which is installed on all new Merkava Mark IV tanks.
The RPG-30 system launches an initial decoy missile that activates the tank’s active defense mechanism. After the tank’s active defense is turned on, a second missile capable of disrupting the tank’s defense mechanism and penetrating 65 cm of armor is launched by the RPG-30 system.
The IDF’s “Windbreaker” system is an active tank defense mechanism manufactured by Israeli military system manufacturer, Rafael. The mechanism provides 360-degree armor protection, although it does have some undisclosed limitations. The system can detect a missile launch against the tank and neutralize the missile before it hits the target.
A similar system called the “Porcupine Quill” (also known as “Iron Fist”) was manufactured as a response to anti-tank missiles that IDF forces encountered in recent conflicts, including during the Second Lebanon War of 2006.
The possible transfer of the RPG-30 anti-tank system to Hezbollah has added to growing Israeli concerns of Syrian weapon transfers to the terrorist organization. Israel believes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad - who is fighting a year-long uprising against him and his regime - may order the transfer of sensitive weapons systems to Hezbollah if his government is toppled.
Director of Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said in July 2011 that Israel was monitoring unfolding events in Syria with concern, specifically over the possibility that strategic weapons from Syria could make their way to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Earlier this month, a senior defense official said the transfer of chemical weapons from Syria to Hezbollah would be tantamount to a declaration of war, and added that Israel would not accept such a move and would take action to prevent it.